If you haven't checked your 2011 Calendar of Made-Up Food Holidays, today is International IPA Day. (It's also National Catfish Month, National Peach Month, National Water Quality Month and National Picnic Month, so consider that when deciding on food pairings with your IPAs.)
We're on the fence about this. Just like we don't wait till some day in April to smoke pot, we live every day like it's IPA Day. But if restaurateurs and bar owners want to emphasize their selections of extra-hoppy, extra-bitter brews, we are not going to complain.
We've gone over the history of IPAs (India Pale Ales) a couple times, but a brief recap: The beer style is British in origin, dating to at least 1717, and is a more heavily hopped version of a pale ale. Beer lore has it that the higher hop and alcohol levels helped preserve the beer for journey by ship to colonial India, though that origin story is debatable and some other styles could have been alcoholic or hopped enough to survive the trip as well. Whatever the case, the stronger, more bitter style was a good match for spicy Indian cooking. American brewers -- particularly brewers on the West Coast, where extremely bitter, floral and citrusy hop varieties thrive -- have especially embraced the style, kicking up the alcohol and hop levels to heights that would have blown the powdered wigs off the Brits who started it.
Following are a few noteworthy IPA events going on tonight, as well as a couple of beer events unrelated to the holiday.
The Common Table is going all out in celebration. The bar is tapping a baker's dozen of IPAs, which should show just what a wide variety of flavors you can get from the style. Lined up for today are: Great Divide Rumble (Oak-aged IPA), Meantime IPA, Squatters Hop Rising Imperial IPA, BrewDog Hardcore, Napa Smith Organic IPA, Boulevard/Deschutes Collaboration #2 (White IPA), Avery The Maharaja, Dogfish Head 90 Minute, Stone Cali-Belgique, Bear Republic Racer 5, Sierra Nevada Southern Hemisphere Harvest, Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous and Dogfish Head 60 Minute.
Ginger Man Dallas has been observing Dogfish Days of Summer this week, which is appropriate as Dogfish Head's 60 Minute, 90 Minute and the elusive 120 Minute are three of the best there are -- though it looks like only the 60 Minute is featured this week at the pub. Remaining nights are tonight and tomorrow, and the bar will be giving away glassware. New beers include Pangea and Santo Marron, neither of which qualifies as an IPA, but also include Burton Baton, a blend of an English old ale and imperial IPA.
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Yesterday the Meddlesome Moth tapped a cask of Saint Arnold Elissa, a fine IPA with or without cask-conditioning. If there's any left, it's a great Texas IPA. If not, the bar has plenty of other ways to celebrate the day.
Tonight, the Libertine Bar's Thursday pint night features Brooklyn Brewing Co. with a bit of a spin on the bar's usual keep-the-glass deal. Two beers will be featured this time, Main Engine Start (a Belgian single that is the first from the brewery's new brew house) and Concoction, the medicinal-tasting beer version of the Sam Ross-created scotch-based cocktail Penicillin (medium peated blended scotch, lemon, ginger, honey and a touch of a heavily peated scotch). Tonight, the bar features an appetizer and a main course, each paired with one of the two beers in a keeper snifter, followed by a Penicillin cocktail.
Scott Reitz's new favorite Dallas pizzeria, Il Cane Rosso, is having a beer dinner 7 p.m. Tuesday with Dallas Beer Snobs. It's a very reasonable $40 per person and includes Harpoon Summer Ale, Affligem Blond, Lazy Magnolia Pecan Lager, Victory Golden Monkey and Buffalo Bill's Orange Blossom Cream Ale. More details here.